For the third and final post about the new ApplyTexas prompts, the College Readiness team has returned to tell you how they would have answered Essay C if they were still in high school!
Check out our posts for Essay A and Essay B if you haven’t seen them yet.
Essay C:You’ve got a ticket in your hand – Where will you go? What will you do? What will happen when you get there?
Kate: I might write about having to fend for myself in New York City with a MetroCard – I was incredibly proud of myself for successfully making it from one place to another without missing my stop or going the wrong way. I was also horrified by the number of passengers who squeeze onto the train, stop after stop, during rush hour. I could recount details from my New York adventure and compare my observations of life in the Big Apple to the life I’ve grown accustomed to in Houston, TX – an entirely different kind of big city.
Another idea could be having a ticket to see Queen perform live at Wembley Stadium in 1986. Obviously this would be entirely made-up and hypothetical, since time travel doesn’t exist (that I know of), and I hadn’t even been born at this time. I think by choosing this topic, I would be able to write about my favorite band ever as well as the significance of the iconic location (btw I’m into the EPL) and the pride I would feel for my motherland (England) in that moment.
Tip: This prompt is a great opportunity to talk about your interests in a creative and imaginative way. Try to think beyond a plane ticket or wristband to ACL (sorry, but writing about your love for music festivals will probably make you blend right in with all of the other 17-year-old applicants being considered). You could potentially write a narrative essay about something that has already happened – I don’t think that this prompt limits you to writing about future/hypothetical situations. Also, if you write about having a ticket to Austin to attend the University of Texas (or whatever city/college you’re hoping to be accepted to), admissions counselors’ eyes may roll into the back of their heads. Please don’t do that.
Alex: I was a giant history and literature buff in high school, so I would definitely have wanted a ticket to one or more of J. R. R. Tolkien’s 1936 lecture series Beowulf: The Monsters and Critics. (I was also a huge LOTR nerd, so this would have been right up my alley.) Because I majored in Creative Writing (and applied for admission under said major), this particular event would not only have reflected my interests at the time, but would also have been relevant to what I was planning on studying for the next four years.
And if I wanted to go the less “pretentious” route, my other choice would be a ticket to the Academy Awards. I minored in Film Studies (and knew that I wanted to do something related to film when I was applying to college), and so this is an essay idea that would once again mirror my external hobbies and interests while also having a link to my academic goals and aspirations. However, in writing this essay, I would do my best to stay away from gushing over my favourite celebrities (ideally, my seat would be right next to Ewan McGregor’s) and instead focus on networking opportunities and the possibility of discussing film and film theory with some of my favourite directors, screenwriters, and producers.
Tips: What’s cool about this essay is that it has the most room to show off your creativity as a writer. The question is open-ended enough that you can come up with a more original approach or a twist on the theme itself. Just be careful not to get too far away from the prompt itself: creativity is awesome, but not to the point where your essay scenario no longer has anything to do with the initial question. A great way to start brainstorming for this essay would be to imagine places or events that you’ve always wanted to see or attend (something along the lines of “If I won the lottery tomorrow …”), and see where your ideas take you. Another option for tying this particular prompt to your academic interests would be to consider upcoming symposiums, concerts, lecture series, or gallery openings that are directly related to what you want to study in college that you would love to attend, if you only had a ticket to do so!
Eriel: Now, high school Eriel most definitely would have said a one-way ticket to Tokyo, Japan. And you know what? Present Eriel might do the same thing. I was (still am) completely in love with anime, manga, and the Final Fantasy series (#GeekinItOver9000). I partnered with a friend of mine in high school to create a graphic novel – I provided the content, he provided the images – and that project was fueled by our mutual devotion to all things anime. So, if high school Eriel got her ticket to Tokyo, she would’ve prayed that the ticket came with a one-week stay at Square Enix HQ (a.k.a. The Final Fantasy Gods) so that she could utilize that opportunity to network, shadow the masterminds in the design, storyboarding, and music departments, learn the ins and outs of a video game development empire, study the conception, creation, and eventual publication of a video game, and hopefully test out some of those games prior to their release (#BusinessAndPleasure). I’m a complete sucker for a good story, and I will time and time again get lost in great stories. The beauty of the video game industry is that you not only witness/read the story, but you’re in it – playing it, controlling it, living it. And the greatest part? It’s usually 50+ hours of story that you can relive a number of ways. My sole disappointment with a good book, movie, or television show is that when it ends, it ends. Videogames are, in a way, neverending stories, and I dream of being a part of that creation process.
An alternative destination but similar approach: a ticket to Pixar Studio. I would have been game for any opportunity that allowed me to learn, travel, and develop my skills as an artist all at once.
Tip: This is a creative essay, so take advantage of that when you’re writing. You can stretch it in various directions. It can be a way for you to show off your personality, interests, and creativity. It can also work as a way for you to showcase your personal and/or professional goals. Take some time to outline what you want to say and how best to say it. Make a list of places you’d love to go, events you’d love to see, or people you’d love to meet. Use that list as your foundation and try to visualize an essay for each item on the list. Which one best reveals your personality and/or interests? Which one allows you the most freedom to write? Which one can you draw enough content from to write an essay? The time and effort you put into outlining and brainstorming a topic like this one will save you some major agony when it comes time to actually writing it.
How Long Should the ApplyTexas Essay Be?
This question comes up a lot. Mainly because the application allows for up to 120 eighty-character lines of text. What’s that? You’re not up on your character count layout for a standard page? A typical single-spaced page of average size font is about 50 lines of text. ApplyTexas allows you to enter something more than twice that long; but, I beg of you, do not take them up on that!
As the ApplyTexas application becomes more and more popular (more than 1.4 million applications were submitted this past year with about 300,000 of those applications coming from students outside of Texas), the ApplyTexas folks seem to be working to simplify and clarify their process a bit more each year. When the 2016-2017 application opened a few days ago, I noticed they added some guiding text on the essay page directly answering this question:
- ApplyTexas recommends that you keep your essay to between 350 and 500 words in length, with no more than 650 words.
I recommend heeding their advice, especially if you’re applying to a school requiring more than one of their prompts. For example, if Texas A&M is on your list, they require a response to Topic A and Topic B, but they also encourage you to submit Topic C if you don’t qualify for automatic admission. That’s three major essays! Now think of the admission officer reading all those essays. I promise, no matter how good of a writer you are, your admission officer does not want to read three 1000 word essays when she has a pile of other applications to get through that day.
If you haven’t yet, check out the new prompts for the 2016-2017 application cycle. ApplyTexas has mixed things up quite a bit this year and the prompts are a lot of fun—especially Topic C. Make sure you’re looking at current information, as some of the schools have changed their requirements to reflect the new prompt choices (namely UT-Austin!). For years University of Texas at Austin required Topic C and a second of your choice. This year they have changed to requiring topic A along with a second of your choice.
While the ApplyTexas platform isn’t the prettiest and might be a bit clunky (if I’m being kind), they do have an incredibly helpful set of FAQs posted on their site. Be sure to check out what they say about submitting their essays.